Parts Known & Unknown: Exploring the Borders of Truth, Reconciliation and Redress

Every Child Matters

Parts Known & Unknown:  Exploring the Borders of Truth, Reconciliation and Redress

W. Kamau Bell joined Anthony Bourdain in Kenya in what was to be the final season of the CNN series, Parts Unknown. Kamau has roots in Kenya and this was his first time travelling to the motherlands of his people, and he stated something that I thought was interesting. He said something like, “coming to Kenya, you know, it’s nice to have a diasporic-kind-of-connection, even though I did not come from Kenya, but I have roots in Kenya, and even if that frame that the connection was built through was colonialism.”

It made me think about what it would be like for someone like myself to travel to the ancestral homes of my people. Well, this is my home. Certainly, more than it is your home, and in this era of truth and reconciliation, it is now both my home as much as it is your home. I come from no other place in the world than from right here, diitiidʔaaʔtx̣ – Ditidaht, we are the Nuuchahnulth and the seas for miles of shoreline and all of the land on the western side of our Vancouver Island home, from Point No Point in the south to Brooks Peninsula in the north, is Nuuchahnulth territory, our haahuulthii.

In the conclusion of that episode with W. Kamau Bell in Parts Unknown, Tony narrates an epilogue, “Who gets to tell the stories? This is a question asked often. The answer in this case, for better or for worse, is I do, at least this time out. I do my best, I look, I listen, but in the end, I know it’s my story. Not Kamau’s, not Kenya’s, or Kenyans’. Those stories are yet to be heard.”

It’s important for colonial settlers, and for new settlers, to Canada to consider who you are and where you come from, and what it means to live in British Columbia, and to think about your own frame of reference as being truly Canadian, even if that frame that the connection was built through was colonialism. The context, the narrative, the history, the good or bad of it, the story of what it means to be Canadian is apart and a part of your individual and shared story as a British Columbian, as a Canadian, as an unwelcomed or welcomed colonial settler, and as a new settler. The stories that have yet to be heard, and are now starting in some ways to be told, is our story, my story, of what it means to be diitiidʔaaʔtx̣, to be Nuuchahnulth, to be First Nations, to be Indigenous, and to also be Canadian in this country and in this province.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a unique opportunity to bridge the divide of our individual and collective stories, our distinct and shared experiences, and our united effort to right and write a new history chaptered with the stories of a sincere determination to tell the truths of the past, to reaffirm and renew our commitments to reconcile all things oppressive, racist and insufferable, and to create an honest and just redress for all Indigenous – First Nations, Inuit, Métis – peoples. It would be momentous to proclaim someday that we all come from a country in which the frame that the connection was built through was equality, acceptance and compassion.

It’s fair to ask, “What will you do between October 1st, 2022 and September 29th, 2023, to recognize your part in this history, this story, and what will you actively do to shift the narrative?” We’re at an urgent time in our country’s history to thoughtfully and actively explore all parts known and unknown in our ongoing journey to come to terms with each other and with our past, and with the present day. I look forward to the work ahead this year, and I’ll look forward to us hearing each other’s stories next year and in the many years to come.

With Respect,

Derek Thompson – Thlaapkiituup
Indigenous Initiatives Advisor, Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

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“The time to make things happen is now. The time to seek out our individual and shared power is now.”

Read the Message from the Indigenous Initiatives Advisor, Derek Thompson – Thlaapkiituuphere

Discover REDI’s Indigenous-Specific Resources here

Welcome to REDI

EDI Community of Practice

The EDI Community of Practice is a network for equity leads, EDI champions or any staff or faculty responsible for advancing or leading EDI initiatives in their unit, department, school or program. We meet monthly to discuss topics of interest and connect via MS teams.

Are you a faculty or staff member leading equity, inclusion, decolonization, and Indigenization initiatives within your unit? Would you benefit from a community of practice to discuss common challenges you face in your role? Join our monthly Community of Practice network. Email Brian: to be added to our mailing list.

a diverse group of women meeting over coffee.

Upcoming Community of Practice monthly topics

How do we create supports for historically marginalized learners to thrive within the Faculty of Medicine?
Dec 11th 2023, 1:00-2:00 PM (Zoom)

In this session, we aim to discuss various initiatives within units in the FoM designed to support historically, persistently, and systemically marginalized groups. Specifically, Tal Jarus will talk about the mentorship program for learners with disabilities within Occupational Science and Therapy, as well as the Diversifying Health and Human Service Professions Education – D-HOPE Program. This program aims to support historically marginalized students in applying for Health Professions at UBC by providing resources and creating opportunities for mentorship and connection.

How do we operationalize “inclusive excellence” in all the different adjudication/selection/awards decisions that we make?
Jan 8th 2023, 1:00-2:00 PM (Zoom)

Questions that we might address include: If grades, volunteering experiences, journal impact factors, and student evaluations of teaching are sexist/ableist/racist, etc., then how do we inclusively and equitably adjudicate excellence in hiring, selections, and award decisions? What are the most important changes in procedures that we can make to have more inclusive and equitable selection processes? How do we best frame these changes in process or criteria to avoid backlash and support historically marginalized groups?

Our special guest for this session will be Saleem Razack, who is the advisor to the REDI Office and has extensive experience working within medical school admissions processes. This session is a follow-up conversation from the meeting in November 2023 that Catherine Macala (Associate Director MD Undergraduate Admissions) led about equity and inclusion considerations in the undergraduate admissions process.

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Unconscious Biases

Unconscious (implicit) biases are prejudgments we make about others but may be unaware of. They are “automatic” mental shortcuts we have adopted as “truths” that then inform our behaviors, in ways that can either support or harm others (Guyn, 2015).

We all hold beliefs about members of various social and identity groups based on our frame of reference. In some cases, our mental shortcuts can lead to making harmful assumptions about people from historically and persistently excluded groups, and if unchecked, these assumptions can impact patient care and health outcomes.

Since decisions made in health professions and education greatly impact and influence people’s lives, it is especially important for clinicians, preceptors, and educators to be aware of their unconscious biases and reflect on how these biases may influence their clinical and educational practices.

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Welcome Harpreet Ahuja and Madison Tardif

we would like to welcome our new equity advisors, Harpreet Ahuja and Madison Tardif, to the REDI team

It is with great pleasure that we welcome our new equity advisors, Harpreet Ahuja and Madison Tardif, to the REDI team. They will play a pivotal role in working collaboratively with our partners to develop and deliver EDI educational programming and consultation services to foster the integration of anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and decolonial approaches within the academic and administrative units across the Faculty.

Our new advisors bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the team. We are excited about the positive impact they will have on our efforts to transform our culture. We invite you to get to know Harpreet and Madison by reading their bios below.

Harpreet Ahuja

Harpreet Ahuja, Equity Advisor, REDI

Harpreet Ahuja (She/Her/Hers) is an Equity Advisor at the Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) within the Faculty of Medicine. In her capacity at REDI, she offers strategic guidance and supports capacity-building for department heads, faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to implementing decolonization, anti-racism, and inclusive practices.

Harpreet is the daughter of an immigrant father from India and a Labradorian Inuit-Polish mother. She was born and raised in Montreal studying in French, then spent her teenage years in downtown Toronto. Her culturally diverse upbringing ignited her curiosity and fueled her passion for social justice.

Her journey into Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) awareness began as a law student when she was nominated by the faculty of law to serve as the Vice President of Equity for the Common Law Student Society. She carried her EDI change management experience into her role as an Investigator in the Critical Injuries and Deaths Division with BC’s Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, where she effectively directed service development and worked to prevent the deaths of vulnerable children in government care.

Harpreet’s approach to embedding EDI is informed by an international context. She has worked on death penalty cases in Malawi, studied genocide education in Rwanda, and Holocaust education in Poland and Germany. She provided legal assistance to migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border and resettled LGBTQI+ Syrian refugees, working out of a satellite office in Israel. She wrote children’s books for schools in Honduras and taught English to university students in Ecuador. Most recently, in October 2022, she worked as an Electoral Observer for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Harpreet is a lawyer by training, holding a law degree from the University of Ottawa (2017) and a Master of Laws degree in International and Comparative Law from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law (2019). During her time at UCLA, she was honored with the Dean’s Tuition Fellowship Award, UCLA School of Law’s Public Interest Award, and a post-graduate fellowship at Yale Law School. Her legal career began with Legal Aid Ontario, where she gained experience in refugee law, aboriginal law, and criminal litigation. She was subsequently Called to the Bar in Ontario and British Columbia.

Prior to joining our team, Harpreet served at arms-length in BC Corrections in the Adult Custody Division, where she was appointed for a 2 year term by the Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General as an independent decision-maker presiding over disciplinary hearings within the 10 provincial correctional centres in BC.

In her spare time, Harpreet is an avid boxer, training at a local boxing gym, and she is also dedicated to the study of the Spanish language.

Madison Tardif

Madison Tardif, Equity Advisor, REDI

Madison Tardif (She/Her/Hers) is an Equity Advisor at the Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) within the Faculty of Medicine. In her capacity at REDI, she offers strategic guidance and supports capacity-building for department heads, faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to implementing decolonization, anti-racism, and inclusive practices.

Madison’s journey into this field was influenced by her own multiracial background, sparking her exploration of identity, power dynamics, privilege, and systems of oppression. While pursuing her graduate degree at the University of Toronto, she delved deeper into the realms of community engagement, systems change, and decolonization. Her research primarily revolved around policy and decision-making within Indigenous self-governments, providing her with profound insights into leadership, community-centered decision-making, and decolonial approaches to governance. This research also played a pivotal role in her work with the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation at Westbank First Nation, where she contributed to the development of policy for the Intergovernmental Affairs and Title and Rights department. This experience underscored the significance of Indigenous sovereignty and the right to self-determination, shaping her passionate commitment to human rights, community-building, justice, conflict engagement, equity, decolonization, indigenization, and anti-racism.

In her previous role at the Equity and Inclusion Office, Madison actively supported the establishment of staff and faculty affinity spaces, the enhancement of hiring standards at the faculty and unit levels, and the creation of educational resources and workshops aimed at empowering historically, persistently, and systemically marginalized (HPSM) groups within UBC. Before joining UBC, Madison served at BC Cancer as the Prostate Cancer Supportive Care Coordinator, where she oversaw prostate cancer patient support for the BC Interior region. Through this experience, she gained firsthand knowledge of how patient-centered and holistic approaches to support can empower HPSM individuals to advocate for themselves and their well-being.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Madison enjoys mountain biking, spending time outdoors with her dog, savoring live music, relishing delicious cuisine, and fostering a sense of community.

Madison is grateful to be a guest on the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation. 

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